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Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler – review at Shubert Theatre, New York – ‘sumptuous’

Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Nearly 50 years since Bette Midler performed in the original Broadway run of Fiddler on the Roof, she is back on Broadway and it’s so nice to have her back where she belongs.

The roar that goes up from the audience when she first appears threatens to stop the show before it even starts. But she more than earns it. At 71, she still has expert comic timing. “Some people paint, some sew. I meddle!” declares Dolly Levi, a matchmaker in late 1800s New York, seeking to find a wife for wealthy but miserly shop owner Horace Vandergelder in upstate Yonkers, as his two downtrodden assistants Cornelius and Barnaby set out on an adventure of their own.

Jerry Herman’s 1964 score contains more earworms than virtually any show in history. Part of the joy of the show is its familiarity; but Jerry Zaks’ traditional, if sumptuous, production makes sure it feels constantly fresh and funny.

Santo Loquasto’s ravishing design mixes gorgeous painted backcloths with 3D sets that include a full-size steam train and carriage. The performances mix and match realism with caricature.

Midler’s Dolly is naturally larger-than-life, and if she sometimes overdoes the comedy (there’s a silent food eating scene that goes on forever), there’s a knowing charm that is completely disarming.

Though it would be easy for everyone else to be cast into her shadow, David Hyde Pierce plays Horace appealingly straight, while Gavin Creel and Taylor Trensch (as Horace’s assistants) and Kate Baldwin and Beanie Feldstein (as the milliners they become embroiled with) enchant with their youthful vivacity

This sumptuous Broadway revival proves a great vehicle for returning star Bette Midler

Production Information

Hello, Dolly!
Shubert Theatre
New York
March 15, 2017
January 14, 2018
Press night
April 20, 2017
Michael Stewart
Jerry Herman
Jerry Herman
Jerry Zaks
Warren Carlyle
Santo Loquasto
Natasha Katz
Scott Lehrer
Production manager
Aurora Productions
Cast includes
Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin, Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein
Scott Rudin, Roy Furman, James L. Nederlander, Eli Bush, Universal Stage Productions, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Heni Koenigsberg, Terry Allen Kramer, Seth A Goldstein, The John Gore Organization, Daryl Roth, The Araca Group, Len Blavatnik, Eric Falkenstein, Ruth Hendel, Independent Presenters Network, Peter May, Jay Alix and Una Jackman, Jane Bergere, Scott M Delman, Wendy Federman, Stephanie P McClelland, Anita Waxman, Al Nocciolino, Spring Sirkin, Barbara Freitag and John Mara Jr, Benjamin Simpson
Running time
2hr 40mins